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Houston hospital system recognized for patient care and technology

Houston Methodist has been recognized in two different awards programs. Courtesy of Methodist Hospital/Facebook

Houston Methodist has a couple new feathers in its cap. The hospital system was recognized with two different awards recently.

Houston Methodist was the only hospital system to have four hospitals receive a 2019 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, M.D., Quality Leadership Award, a recognition that praises hospitals for demonstrating quality and care. The Vizient Quality and Accountability Study has been conducted every year since 2005.

Houston Methodist Hospital was recognized in the in the comprehensive academic medical center category, Houston Methodist Sugar Land received an award in the specialized complex care medical center category, and both Houston Methodist Willowbrook and Houston Methodist The Woodlands were selected for the complex medical center category.

"Having four of our hospitals on this list is extraordinary. Receiving such national recognition is an honor, but I'm most proud that the reason for these awards is our concerted focus on quality patient care," says Marc L. Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, in a news release.

This year was slightly different from years prior, and 349 participating hospitals were divided into four cohorts for the Vizient Quality and Accountability Ranking. Among some of the assets considered were safety, mortality, clinical effectiveness, efficiency and patient centeredness. The announcement was made last week during the 2019 Vizient Connections Education Summit in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, the hospital system was also recently recognized for being among the "Most Wired" in the United States. For the 12th consecutive year, Houston Methodist received the 2019 HealthCare's Most Wired recognition from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, or CHiME. The award recognizes hospital systems for their innovation, adoption, and optimal use of information technology.

New this year was CHiME's ambulatory facilities recognition, which Houston Methodist received for outstanding technical accomplishments, earning a Certified Level 8 Quality Award.

Innovation has an increased focus at Houston Methodist since premiering its Center for Innovation — a group of leaders charged with finding new technologies for the hospital system for patients, physicians, and staff — under the leadership of Roberta Schwartz. She is the system's executive vice president, chief innovation officer, and chief executive officer of Houston Methodist Hospital.

After 17 years at Houston Methodist, Schwartz says she's seen the evolution of tech and is taking note of where the industry is going.

"I think we're an industry that is transforming itself. We're either going to be disrupted or we're going to do the disruption ourselves," Schwartz tells InnovationMap in a previous article. "There's nobody who knows health care better than we do, so if we're going to transform the industry, I want that transformation to come from the inside."

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Building Houston

 
 

5G could be taking over Texas — and Houston is leading the way. Photo via Getty Images

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

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